[Ads-l] "pop", noun, = 'an ejaculation' in 1722? As a verb, it's only from 1958

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Fri Mar 10 14:16:21 EST 2017

Does the following, from the New England Courant, 1722 April 9, 1/2, contain “pop” =‘ejaculation’ (or perhaps ‘an occurrence of sexual intercourse’), antedatingthe OED by around 200 years?  “Ben. Treackle” writes to the “Author of the New-EnglandCourant” that “the powerful charms” of a “brisk young Widow,” her good temper,and her “natural parts not inferiour to any” have “intirely captivated”him.  But he has “the misfortune of abashful Temper, so that I can’t reveal my Passion.” He believes that she loves him,“but by reason of her Modesty (an inherent Quality in the fair Sex) [she] don’tdiscover [i.e., “disclose”] it.”  Is it“improper for the Lady to pop the Question first?”, Ben asks.  The NEC repliesno, not improper.  “Your entire Affection for and Esteem of theWidow, obliges her in Gratitude to popQuestions to you; especially since your Bashfulness renders you incapableof giving her one single Pop for allthe good Manners and Pleasantnesswith which she treats you.  And if the brisk young Creature deserves theCharacter you give her, I doubt not but she can pop more Questions than you are able to answer. Pray Mr. Treackle, read this to your Mistress atyour next Meeting, and if she does not popthe Question first, you may conclude (inshort) that she does not love you,and it will be your Wisest way to pop off.”  [Italics in original.]  New England Courant,1722 April 9, 1/2.  This essay (bothparts, from and to Ben. Treackle) is attributed by Ben Franklin to [Nathaniel] Gardner.   J. A. Leo Lemay notes “wordplay” inGardner’s essays (1:379), and says of the passage above “Writing as the editor,Gardner answered with a play on the word pop”(1:92; for Gardner in the NEC, see88--94).  I see three or perhaps four “plays” on “pop, v.1” and “pop,n.1”.  If I’m right, there are three things to add to the OED:  2 and 3 below; 4 has an additional, but early, quotation, and an antedating for "pop off" = 'die'; 1 is already in the OED.  (1)  “Improper for theLady to pop the Question first”:  Pop,v.1, sense 4.a, ‘to propose marriage’. Nothing new, and in fact the OED has this as one of its quotations.  “In gratitude to pop questions to you” isprobably the same sense 4.a, but with the meaning ‘to ask (a question) abruptlyor unexpectedly’.  (The OED says this senseis “now only in ‘to pop the question: to propose marriage’.”)  (2)  “Your bashfulnessrenders you incapable of giving her one single pop”:  ? Pop, n.1, new sense, ‘an ejaculation’?  Does the NECwriter connote “bashfulness” as “impotence”?   The OED has the verbal form, in pop, v.1, sense12.a, ‘to ejaculate; to have an organism,’ but only from much later, 1958 on!  (And given the verbal form, I would expect tofind the noun (as “an ejaculation”) from the same period, but it's not in the OED.)  (3)  She [the brisk young creature] can pop morequestions than you are able to answer”: ? Is this simply pop, v.1, sense 4.a again?  Or does “brisk young creature” (italicized inthe original), and the fact that this follows his incapability (lack of briskness?)to give her “one single pop,” suggest some sexual undertone here to “pop”? Tome “brisk” as an adjective in the OED hints of freedom of action, sexuallyactive. “Brisk” as a noun more than hints: the OED has sense 2, “a lively,forward woman, a wanton,” with a single quotation from 1689.  Is she brisk, and can “pop more questions” --make more sexual advances -- than he can respond to? 
(4)  “Wisest way topop off”:  Pop, v.1, sense 3.a, ‘To moveor go somewhere quickly or unexpectedly.’ This dates from 1530.  ButGardner’s 1722 “pop off” antedates the OED’s earliest quotation with “off” of1919.  (The OED’s 1729 quotation under“old woman” means “to die,” and should probably be placed under pop, v.1, sense7.b, where it would be an antedating of 1764.)  For Ben Franklin’s attribution, see Worthington ChauncyFord, “Franklin’s New England Courant,” Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings 57 [October, 1923–June,1924], p. 352.  For Lemay on Gardner, seeThe Life of Benjamin Franklin (2006),1:379, 92, and on Gardner’s oeuvre, 88--94.  Joel

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